Analogies and metaphors

  1. 5 I've been thinking of ways to help explain different topics and rationales to patients. I like to use metaphors or analogies to help create a picture for my patient.

    For example, when teaching about how hypertension can lead to renal failure, I might say,

    "Think of the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys as the delicate strands of silk in a beautiful scarf. If you washed that scarf gently under a low-pressure faucet, it would last a long time. This is like the gentle movement of blood with a healthy blood pressure. But if you washed that delicate scarf with a fire hose, the tiny threads would be damaged over time and the scarf would be ruined. This is like the forceful movement of blood through the vessels in someone with high blood pressure. Your kidneys have a lot of tiny, delicate vessels and if they get damaged, the kidney will no longer work properly".

    I would love to read some of the metaphors that you all use in patient teaching. I'm especially interested in analogies of metaphors for difficult topics. Thank you for anything you share! :-)
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  3. Visit  izzflr profile page

    About izzflr

    Joined Mar '11; Posts: 6; Likes: 7.

    20 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  brownbook profile page
    A patient ( a chemical engineer) gave me the idea, but I like to explain that the pre-op IV fluid is a "carrier." Its purpose is to carry the medication the anesthesiologists puts in it to the brain or "chemical receptor sites."

    Patients often think the IV is for hydration because they have been NPO!
  5. Visit  SwansonRN profile page
    Blood pressure= garden hose (pump, volume, squeeze). I guess pipes is another common one

    I know there must be so many, but I am drawing a blank.
    anotherone likes this.
  6. Visit  Pepper The Cat profile page
    To someone in urinary retention, who thinks voiding small amts is OK and they don't need a cath.

    I tell them to think of a blocked sink. You add water, and some will spill over but most of the water remains in the sink. The sink is like your bladder. As you drink, water is added. Eventually,am small amount will "spill over" ie you will pee a bit. But most of it stays in the sink, ie most of the pee stays in the bladder. The longer the water sits in the sink, the yukkier it gets, just like the pee sitting in your bladder.that water/pee needs to come out. Ergo, the catheter.
  7. Visit  Pepper The Cat profile page
    PS, sorry for typos. I blame cat interferance! He is jealous of the iPad and keep sticking his head in the way!
    ccso962 likes this.
  8. Visit  noyesno profile page
    For pain management:

    If staying on top of the pain is like maintaining a fire, Norco is like wood and Dilaudid is like gasoline.
    elprup likes this.
  9. Visit  noyesno profile page
    When explaining the Norco/Dilaudid analogy to a patient one time, she replied, "let's blow this place up!"
  10. Visit  RNperdiem profile page
    Patient's first instinct when faced with an incentive spirometer is to breathe hard into the spirometer.
    I tell my patients to take a deep drag like you are smoking a cigarette. Most people get that. The IS kind of does look like a bong, now that I think about it.
  11. Visit  ruler of kolob profile page
    Quote from RNperdiem
    Patient's first instinct when faced with an incentive spirometer is to breathe hard into the spirometer.
    I tell my patients to take a deep drag like you are smoking a cigarette. Most people get that. The IS kind of does look like a bong, now that I think about it.
    What's a "Bong"?
    twinmommy+2, noyesno, Wise Woman RN, and 3 others like this.
  12. Visit  classicdame profile page
    raising blood glucose - carbs are like matches - burn hot and fast and they are done. Proteins are like logs - burn hot and slow for many hours.

    The heart is like a sump pump. If the electrical motor is defective the pump will not function properly
    RNperdiem and noyesno like this.
  13. Visit  izzflr profile page
    Thanks nurses, these are great! I love the IS one RNperdiem :-)

    Have guys you got any for tough topics like end of life, hospice, continuing other options after ineffective treatments, or helping build trust when patients hear about other facilities' mistakes in the news?
    RNperdiem likes this.
  14. Visit  KelRN215 profile page
    Pedi nurse here. Have had to participate in difficult conversations explaining to a child that he/she has cancer more times than I can count. Our Child Life Specialist used to equate having a tumor in one's brain to having a rock in one's shoe when explaining this to young children. It worked- they understood that they couldn't do what they wanted with a rock in their shoe so they needed to get it out so it made sense to them that the surgeon needed to go in and take out the rock that was in their heads.
  15. Visit  brighella profile page
    When explaining how when Morphine sulfate liquid and ativan are used together they potentiate each other, I explain in 2 ways - I talk about how 1+1=3 (because they both work better). Then, particularly when the kids of my hospice patients are in the baby boomer cohort I will equate the meds to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. When taken as individuals, both are talented musicians. When combined, they became the Beatles. Highly effective!

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